Tumbles, scrapes, ouches, owies and boo-boos. Just another day in the life of a parent. But what about invisible pain? The kind you can’t kiss and make better. Like the doctor you turn to for fevers and flus, there’s help out there for that kind of pain, too.
Children’s mental health problems are real, common and treatable. One in five children will experience some degree of an emotional or behavioral difficulty each year. Untreated emotional and behavioral challenges can disrupt a child’s ability to function at home, school and in the community. Without intervention, children with these challenges are at increased risk of school failure, contact with the criminal justice system, dependence on social services, and even suicide.
Parents and family members are usually the first to notice if a child has problems with emotions or behavior. Your observations, along with those of teachers and other caregivers, can help determine whether you need to seek help for your child. The following signs may indicate the need for professional help:
- Decline in school performance
- Poor grades despite strong efforts
- Constant worry or anxiety
- Repeated refusal to go to school or to take part in normal activities
- Hyperactivity or fidgeting
- Persistent nightmares
- Persistent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
- Depression, sadness or irritability
- Frequent crying
Although these may seem like individual issues, they could be an indication of something bigger, especially if they persist. Early identification and intervention can help children reach their full potential. If you suspect a problem or have questions, talk with your child’s pediatrician or contact a mental health professional.
Information provided by Mental Health America.
Help is available! Find easy access to mental health and suicide prevention resources by using the links provided here.
If you or someone you care about is in crisis and needs immediate help, call the Crisis Hotline at (888) 724-7240. The phone lines are answered by trained professionals available 24/7; the call is free and confidential. If emergency medical care is needed, call 9-1-1 or go to the emergency room of the nearest hospital.
- Suicide Prevention Education Awareness and Knowledge Program (SPEAK):
SPEAK is a San Diego Unified School District developed initiative that established a suicide prevention training and education program for 75 of the district’s schools that include 7th - 12th graders. The mission is to reduce the stigma that is associated with mental illness and depression, increase help-seeking behaviors in youth, and improve staff responsiveness to suicidal concerns and behaviors in students by providing education to students, staff, and parents throughout the district.
- National Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health:
This is a family-run organization with more than 120 chapters and state organizations representing the families of children and youth with mental health needs. It offers a wealth of resources and information for families.
- Project ABC:
This website provides resources and tip sheets for families, professionals and community organizations to promote the healthy emotional development of infants and young children.
- Child and Adolescent Bipolar Foundation:
This website offers information, resources and the opportunity to connect with others.
- Evidence Based Mental Health Treatment for Children and Adolescents:
This website is a valuable resource for parents who want an effective treatment based on scientific findings. Developed by researchers and clinicians, the site reflects the most current research on the treatment of childhood disorders. In addition, the site enables parents to search for a local therapist committed to the practice of science-based therapy.
- Mental Health America Fact Sheets for Parents
- The Balanced Mind Foundation
Offers information, resources and the opportunity to connect with others.
- American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
This website offers resources and a wide range of “Facts for Families” in different languages.
- National Dissemination Center for Children with Disabilities
A central source of information on disabilities in infants, toddlers, children, and youth. Parents can find easy-to-read information on IDEA, the law authorizing early intervention services and special education; as well as find state resource fact sheets to connect with disability agencies and organizations in your state.
- Family Guide (PDF, 1.6 MB)
The Building Blocks Family Guide contains ideas for fun activities and discussion starters for you and your children, as well as advice and guidance on topics such as active listening, rule-making, and being a good role model.
- The Myth of the Bad Parent
- 7 Super Things Parents & Caregivers Can Do
- 10 Things You Should Know About Infant Mental Health
- 10 Simple Things That Can Boost Your Child's Brain Power
- Tip Sheets for Parents: Tips on Talking
- Tip Sheets for Parents: Dealing with Temper Tantrums
- Tip Sheets for Parents: Rules and Responsible Behavior
- Raising Your Grandchildren
- Helping Children Deal with Tragedies (PDF)